International Day of Self Love
Also known as
International Natural Day
annually on February 13th (since 2011)
Sanah Jivani in 2011
Sanah Jivani was diagnosed with alopecia areata when she was three, and in seventh grade, she was diagnosed with alopecia universalis—total body hair loss. She became completely bald, and thought she had lost the thing that set her apart, shaped her look, and made her feel confident. She was devastated and embarrassed and bought a wig, which she hoped no one would find out about. But Jivani soon became a victim of bullying. She found a note in her locker that said: "Fifty ways to KILL YOURSELF." Someone created a Facebook page to post cruel statuses about her, and the first post said: "Sanah Jivani wears a wig."
But the hair loss ultimately made a positive impact on Jivani's life. She got rid of her wig a week before starting freshman year of high school, and then told her story in a video and posted it on Facebook. She said the video post was her first step to loving herself completely: "I knew I no longer was going to hide, and a huge burden was suddenly lifted off my chest." There was a positive response to her Facebook post, and she said she "finally understood that people can only love you once you learn to love yourself," and "that from now on, my life wasn't only about myself…It was about all the people I could inspire." She realized she had to fight a daily battle to love herself, and said, "self-love is an amazing gift everyone deserves to discover."
Jivani felt it was unfair that she had this new self-confidence while others didn't, so she started Natural Day at her school along with a friend. It challenged students to let go of something that tied them down. "Natural Day is about letting go of all of that. It's about being free, and learning to love yourself the way I learned to love myself," Jivani said. She said it was set on the day before Valentine's Day "because it's important to love yourself before you love others." Jivani and her friend made posters and spoke on the school's morning announcements. Jivani also stood in front of the whole school and shared her story.
Jivani expanded Natural Day at her school over the next few years. She saw people opening up and showing courage, and she wanted what happened there to have an impact on other schools and communities too. She contacted school counselors and self-esteem organizations and created a video that went viral. Through her efforts, Natural Day soon became International Natural Day. Schools around the world celebrated the day as she did at her school, and before long it was being observed in 28 countries.
Presently, International Natural Day is more often known as International Day of Self Love. It is celebrated in schools, communities, and on social media. It is celebrated a little bit differently by everyone since it focuses on experiences and circumstances unique to each individual. Everyone is "encouraged to let go of their insecurities, check-in with themselves, and celebrate who they are." Individuals share their stories on social media while schools decorate their campuses and focus on self-acceptance activities and encouraging a climate of empathy. Communities host celebrations and events.
International Day of Self Love is one of the projects of Jivani's Love Your Natural Self Foundation, which she started at the same time she got rid of her wig. The Love Your Natural Self Foundation is dedicated to improving self-esteem and empowering people to be the best versions of themselves. Besides organizing International Day of Self Love, their largest project, the foundation sets up exhibition booths dedicated to spreading the word about self love, and hosts empowerment sessions at schools or in the form of group therapy sessions.
How to Observe International Day of Self Love
Some ideas on ways to celebrate the day include:
- Challenge yourself to let go of your insecurities. Love who you are, check-in with yourself, celebrate yourself, and inspire others to do the same.
- Share your story of courage on social media.
- If you are involved with a school—whether as a student or educator—decorate your campus, focus on self-acceptance activities, and encourage a climate of empathy.
- See if any celebrations or events for the day are being held in your community.
- Explore the Love Your Natural Self Foundation website.
- Watch Sanah Jivani's TED Talk.